There are FB-haters out there with many sound reasons to criticize the giant social media octopus – the best one, to me, being that it is a closed-source corporate entity whose sole reason for existing is to collect our demographic information and sell it to advertisers. That stinks, and its a good enough reason to abstain – but it’s not my main reason.
I don’t do Facebook because I just can’t. For me Facebook is like a little taste of heroin to someone with a history of abuse. It feels really, really good. It zings right into my hungry receptors, plugging the holes left by real needs: for love, for connection, for validation. It feeds my ego – who doesn’t want a thousand friends? I do! And it does what every addiction does – it offers endless distraction, 24/7, so I don’t ever have to sit down with my unadorned selfÂ – oh god forbid, what if i get bored?! It makes me want more, and deep into the night, I can never seem to get enough. There’s got to be more out there, just a few stray grains between the sidewalk cracks.
Of course there are other flavours, but none seem to have the sticky appeal of FB. Some of my closest real-life friends have seriously debilitating social media habits. They are highly defensive, and will go on and on about how great it is for them, how they have reconnected with their childhood friends, how they can instantly share their photos and gossip with everyone in their ever-expanding networks. They create cheerful online profiles to assure the world that they are witty, sexy, confident and secure. They obsessively update their “status”. And they start to visibly fidget when they haven’t had a hit for hours, or when there’s a computer sitting in the corner of the room…fingers twitching to log on. The most addicted spring to defend of their habit like mother wolverines to their threatened cubs. I can relate. I know the twitch, and the delicious moment when the craving is finally satisfied and – zing! – I’ve got mail. It feels great when I’m on it, but when the power goes down…ugh, not so good.
Now listen – I’m not a technophobe or a luddite. I know the Internet enables social movements on a massive scale, and I may be naive but I still think this is the closest we’ve ever come to anarchic global democracy. I believe that the same technological know-how that has brought us to the brink of extinction holds the keys to our salvation. I am actually still blown away by the miracle of the Internet, and at the best of times I manage to have a creative and beneficial relationship with this incredible gift.
But it is a constant struggle for me to maintain a healthy relationship with this technology, so that it augments rather than replaces my real-life relationships with human beings and with the physical world. It demands conscious strategies. It certainly helps me to spene time on this quiet island, with the forest and ocean at my door. Getting away entirely from access to the electronic drug for spans of time really helps. I felt so much healthier when I lived at Dorje Ling for four wireless months. But this blog is evidence that it can be my tool and not my master. Day by day, in every way…I am getting better…and who knows – maybe some day I will feel strong enough to re-activate my dormant FB account (it still exists but have only three friends, one of whom is a cat).
For now, however, please don’t take this the wrong way: I am glad to know you. But I will not be your Facebook friend.
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